Thursday, May 19, 2011

Heroin on the Mind.

On Tuesday, 17 young adults between the ages of 17-24 were indicted by a federal grand jury for heroin-related crimes in my hometown of Flower Mound, TX.

And now, two days later, a football player from my University has been pronounced dead. The cause of death is still unknown, but drug overdose is suspected. Austin Box, OU's senior linebacker was only 22 years old.

149 comments were made on this news article about the Flower Mound heroin crime. Probably more by the time you get around to reading it. People have very strong opinions, and are quick to post them when they are behind the computer screen, using an anonymous name.

After reading through most of these comments, I decided it would be most appropriate to gather my thoughts and post them here. My goal isn't to engage in an argument; my intention, rather, is to pass love and prayer along to those impacted by the recent news.

There were 3 deaths in the town of Flower Mound from heroin overdose in the past year, and I imagine at this time, the parents of those teens are wishing they could trade places with the families of the teens going to prison. The statistics of heroin users are daunting-only 1 in 5 ever break free of the addiction. I imagine parents of teens who have died from overdose wish their loved one was alive to have the staggering 20% chance of bouncing back, even if prison time was required.

If you are interested in a sociological perspective on WHY people even begin down this path, you might find THIS LINK on the Anomie Theory interesting.

With the back-to-back news in both my hometown and college town, a few questions have come to the forefront of my mind. 

1) Heroin is not a recreational drug that people dabble in for experimentation or curiosity. Specifically, the 17 indicted in Flower Mound, were not "curious" teenagers or "sporadic users"-- they were addicts. The medical point of view makes me question the ethics involved with releasing photos, names, and information about these individuals. In my opinion, they should be treated as PATIENTS, with HIPPA protecting their medical privacy. It is not my concern what these people look like, or who they are. My concern is that they are no longer able to supply heroin to others, and that they get the help they need from a trained MEDICAL staff that has their BEST interests at heart. This is not a legal issue-it is a medical issue-and I think it should be treated as such. Prison is not the place for them-rehab is. Prison has video games, and a lot of ample time where people sit around. Boredom leads most people to drug use anyway. These patients need schedules set each day filled with activities, therapy, and care. There should not be ample time for them to sit and crave their drug; the physical dependence heroin causes will cause cravings without any help from boredom. 

2) Why are people so righteous about their children NOT using drugs? When I read through those posts, I thought to myself, "Those parents might be surprised what their kids actually do...and will never tell you, based on your harsh judgments." If my parents ever told me that drug addicts were "better off in hell," and I became a drug addict, they would be the LAST person I would turn to for help. And the reality of the situation, which is very evident with the location of this organized activity, is DRUG ABUSE DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. There was only one African American (not like it should matter, but it should bring awareness) involved. These were young, white, upper-middle class, young adults, LIVING in Flower Mound, Grapevine, Highland Village, and Lewisville. These kids, I'm sure, were raised similarly to the way I was raised. It's evident that drug abuse can set in where the means are made available. One would think that a successful University of Oklahoma linebacker wouldn't be drawn to any other high--but there is something there that entices certain individuals, and medical treatment is necessary, not judgment.

3) At the end of the day, personal convictions and outward judgments do not bring the dead back to life, nor do they end addiction and the physical withdrawals one goes through. They benefit NOBODY other than the person feeling superior, passing the judgments. Unfortunately, many people passing judgments use religion as a means to do so. I stand firm in my belief that any religion is based in love and peace, and the principles of religion should not be used for ego-advancement. I believe Jesus would want to help every drug-addicted individual find joy and peace in life, not make the addict feel worse with judgments. In fact, Jesus passed the message of non-judgment and love. Nothing else matters. Quite literally, and not-so-bible-thumpingly- I declare, THANK YOU, JESUS!

4) During my clinical rotation at Griffin Memorial (a state-funded psychiatric ward in Oklahoma), I spent ample time with drug addicts. This is where many drug addicts end up when they cannot afford expensive rehabilitation. Needless to say, one can go mad being surrounded by patients with severe schizophrenia, bipolar, and borderline personality disorder, when the drug addict is a healthy individual otherwise. I'd like to mention, for the judgmental alcohol-drinking individuals out there, ALCOHOL is a drug, too. In fact, alcohol withdrawals can be lethal. When one has to drink to curb deadly withdrawal symptoms, or inject heroin...it takes any "fun seeking" behavior completely out of the equation. They are self-medicating. Why is it that our country is so quick to judge those that self-medicate, but not those that are taking prescription pills? Heroin is a derivative of morphine. It used to be given in prescription form, here in the states. The issue, whether it is alcohol, heroin, prescription pills or any other substance you want, is when it becomes an addiction. When one has to take the substance to feel normal...they are depriving themselves of the joy life has to offer, and slowly become numb to the beautiful world around them. 

To the Flower Mound residents that have been indicted--I don't know you. But I'm praying for you. 

I am praying that people lay off, because I can imagine your stress and pressure is high enough without anybody else putting more on your shoulders. 

I am praying for comfort while you withdrawal.

I am praying for peace for your families.

I am praying for inner motivation to not become a statistic. That you can quit using, and be successful in your future endeavors.

I am praying that you find joy and serenity in the simple things of life. 

I am very grateful that I have not witnessed the effects of drug abuse first-hand, or with any immediate family or friends. However, I do not think that any of us are exempt, or special. I think we are lucky. And for that, I am grateful. 


  1. http://www.dhammabrothers.com/Trailer.htm

  2. I love the way you make me think! Thanks Lindsay :)

  3. thanks phoebe, and thank you anonymous. i've been meaning to see this documentary since i heard jenny phillips on npr. good link.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful article. My name is Kathy O'Keefe and I am the mother of one of the kids that died from an OD. From that, I developed WTF - Winning The Fight!

    I applaud your comments. For three days now I have been reading the most alarming comments of hate and judgement. Even I got attacked for my son's death.

    Thank you for voicing and educating. There are people whom appreciate it. I am going to post this link on our WTF wall for our readers to see as well.

    Best of luck to you and your future. We are big Sooner fans, as we have a son at OU in his Jr. year!

    Kathy O'Keefe
    WTF - Winning The Fight!

  5. As usual, I agree with pretty much everything you've said here. I, unfortunately, do know one of the 17 arrested...I used to babysit for him. I was so distraught for his family, because just as you suggested, they are just like any other FM family.

    I have known people who fought serious addiction, from both alcohol and drugs (both street and RX) and have witnessed, first hand, the devastation left in its path when one cannot survive this addiction. You are so right...it should be treated as a medical issue, not a legal one. And jail is absolutely not what they need (at least at first).

    I have very strong feelings on how to talk about drugs with kids, but seeing as I'm not a mother yet, I won't get into those. But, again no surprise, I agree with you.

    Thank you SO much for writing this. I'll be linking to it on my blog. And to the mother who commented above me, I am so terribly sorry for you loss and I think WTF is an amazing thing.

    Love you, friend!

  6. WONDERFUL article.. I agree with you. I hate reading the judgmental comments made by some on that board. Jesus would be right there with the addicts, helping them, not hating/bashing them. They need help, not people's self righteous judgments. People's eyes (in the community) need to be opened and aware. And I agree - alcohol is an addictive substance just like any other drug. People can be addicted to many things: shopping, food, sex, drugs, etc. The addicts need help and support. And Go Sooners! We, too, are Sooner fans/alums. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  7. I have been a heroin addict for the past 2 1/2 years. Today, thanks to God, I have been clean for 6 weeks. I was told that a very close friend of mine was the person whose heroin it was that killed those three people...All I can say is that heroin, addiction, drugs in general is nothing, but Satan trying to grasp his claws into us and bring us further and further away from God and true happiness. Believe me, over the period I used, my life was a living HELL..I woke up thinking about it, went to sleep thinking about it...would even sit there for 4 hours sometimes trying to hit myself. Talk about a miserable existance. You are SO correct when you say that addiction does not descriminate. I was raised by a WONDERFUL family, parents who loved me unconditionally, lived in a very secluded middle class neighborhood and somehow it found its way into my life. I also agree with the fact that in no way shape or form is it the parents fault unless they are forcing it up your nose or in your veins. We all have free will and that gives us the power to choose what we will and will not do. It's very sad to see people be so naive about things like this and choose to judge rather than show compassion. I feel for all involved in situations like this. It really breaks my heart bc I know firsthand how much addiction destroys life. Thank you for writing this! It's good to know that there are people who have the right attitude about these sort of things! Thank you and God bless!

  8. I don't think I've ever had such a positive response, both external and internal, from an online social site, as I have just now.

    I am so flattered to receive this kind of response from all of you. In particular,

    Mrs. O'Keefe, I have gone to the WTF site and think the name is clever, and the organization is wonderful. I find it uplifting and inspiring that you can take such a tragedy and use it toward bettering yourself and your community. My prayers were with you before I ever knew you had a name, and now when I pray, it will be all the more personal.

    Rachel Naslund, thanks for your continuous support, I fall more in love with you each day. You are by every definition a great friend and role model to me.

    Sharon, thank you for your kind words, and yes, BOOMER SOONER!!! :)

    Rachel D, thank you for sharing your very personal story on my blog. I am honored you found this site a safe space. Reading your first-hand account further strengthens my beliefs on this issue, and motivates me to continue to pray and hope for a difference in my community.

    Thank you all. This really means so much and has absolutely made my day. Who would've thought one could feel so uplifted while at a computer? :-)